More and more makeup is being bought online, but it doesn’t mean the end of the makeup counter. Noting that online makeup sales have soared nearly 30%, compared to 3% growth in department stores and specialty boutiques, brick-and-mortar is clapping back.
In order to keep counters thriving, specialty store Sephora emphasizes sampling initiatives—some complimentary and some monetized. Loyalty sampling allows Beauty Insider members to trade in rewards points for samples, and provides brands with a means for increasing awareness among high-value customers, and though customers can trade in points for samples online, they’re more likely to get more in-store. A third of these samples come from indie brands, a solid move considering niche brands have been on the up for several years now.
While department stores continue to struggle in the US, they’re still an important channel of distribution for beauty brands. Macy’s and Nordstrom both rank in the top 10 retailers by digital beauty sales in the US, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Beauty 2017. But can their influence online be replicated offline?
Nordstrom seems to be succeeding at this. The department store has placed its bets on the natural beauty movement, opening 46 in-store outposts this year targeting ingredient-conscious consumers. This tactic has proved so successful that a space with wellness products was added earlier this year. Meanwhile, Saks Fifth Avenue edited and enlarged its entire beauty section with a new layout, event space, and 15 beauty treatment rooms.
Keeping in tune with the idea of stores as an “experience,” other department and specialty beauty chains could take a page from both Saks’ new layout and from Glossier’s “Instagram-friendly” showroom to make sure their offline counterparts are as enticing as their online shops. Department and specialty stores need to nail the resurrection of the makeup counter if they want to keep their physical locations going. From in-store only perks to made-for-social-media shops, there are still some things brick and mortar can give to consumers that online stores can’t.